2015 KTM RC 390 – First Look Review

2015 KTM RC 390
2015 KTM RC 390

KTM takes its “Ready to Race” motto to heart. It has been the spec manufacturer for the Red Bull Rookies Cup since the series debuted in 2007, running the two-stroke KTM RC 125 for the first six seasons and the Moto3-spec four-stroke KTM RC 250 R for 2013 and 2014. In the Moto3 world championship series, Red Bull KTM Ajo factory rider Jack Miller is the current points leader, and several other KTM riders are in the hunt.

Such success motivated KTM to develop a nearly race-ready, small-displacement sportbike that is street legal. All-new for 2015, the RC 390 is powered by a four-stroke, liquid-cooled 345cc single, with DOHC, four valves and electronic fuel injection. KTM says the short-stroke engine (89mm bore, 60mm stroke) weighs just 79 pounds and makes 44 horsepower at 9,500 rpm and 26 lb-ft of torque at 7,250 rpm.

Designed for performance, the engine has a forged piston, a Nikasil coated cylinder and a 46mm Dell’Orto throttle body. A balancer shaft dulls vibration and vertically stacked transmission shafts on the 6-speed gearbox keep the powerplant compact. A compact, three-chamber stainless steel silencer is tucked under the belly, said to be tuned for power and an aggressive sound.

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Wrapped around the engine is a tubular-steel trellis frame with a 23.5-degree rake, 3.5 inches of trail and a 52.8-inch wheelbase, and it is mated to a die-cast aluminum trellis swingarm. Suspension is by WP. The male-slider fork has 43mm stanchions (same diameter as those on the 1190 RC8 R) and 4.9 inches of travel, but no adjustability–KTM describes its damping as a “stiff racing set-up.” The direct-link rear shock is adjustable for spring preload and offers 5.9 inches of travel.

The cast-aluminum wheels are standard 17-inchers, shod with Metzeler Sportec M5 tires in 110/70-ZR17 and 150/60-ZR17 sizes. Brakes are by Brembo, with a single 300mm disc in front squeezed by a 4-piston radial caliper and another 230mm disc out back squeezed by a 2-piston caliper. ABS is standard, and it can be disengaged.

Sport-oriented ergonomics will no doubt favor smaller, lighter riders, with clip-on handlebars, rearset footpegs and a 32.3-inch seat height. Claimed dry weight is 324 pounds and fuel capacity is 2.64 gallons.

The Moto3-inspired aggressive fairing houses two small projector headlights and LED turn signals and taillight. Behind the sport windscreen is a fully digital instrument panel that includes a gear position indicator, fuel gauge and programmable shift light.

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Naturally, KTM will offer a full line of race-oriented accessories, from graphics and replacement levers to a racing seat. Touring accessories will also be available, including a tankbag, tailbag and a GPS bracket.

The 2015 KTM RC 390 will make its U.S. debut at the International Motorcycle Show in Long Beach, California, on November 14, 2014, where pricing will be announced. Bikes should be in dealerships starting in March 2015.

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